Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




College of Liberal Arts


Andrew Morris

Advisor Department


Advisor College

College of Liberal Arts


Analysis of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and their actions in the 1970s and 1980s offer insight into their use of just war theory in their conflict with the British government and ultra-loyalist Protestant forces in Northern Ireland. The historiography of Irish history is defined by its phases of nationalism, revisionism, and anti-revisionism that cloud the historical narrative of imperialism and insurgency in the North. Applying just war theory to this history offers a more nuanced understanding of the conflict of the Troubles and the I.R.A.’s usage of this framework in their ideology that guided their terrorism in the latter half of the twentieth century. The murders of influential members of British society and the I.R.A.’s statements on these events further posit just war theory as a guiding force of this group. In 1980-1981 the I.R.A. staged hunger strikes in the H Block of Long Kesh Prison and the writings of their leader Bobby Sands continued their use of just war theory in their efforts to be granted Special Category Status. This work concludes that the I.R.A. utilized just war theory throughout this period and that it was a guiding force of their ideology. It contributes a more nuanced analysis of just war theory and its applications to the I.R.A.’s struggles against the British. Ultimately, it demonstrates how this theory was used by this insurgent movement to claim legitimacy, defend their actions, and frame their anti-imperialist movement as a necessary means to combatting British forces.